American Director Leads Project to Protect African Films

20 July, 2017

American filmmaker Martin Scorsese is supporting an international project to preserve African movies.

It is called the African Film Heritage Project. Its goal is to protect the work of Africa's most important directors, and restore some of the films.

The Film Foundation, a nonprofit launched by Scorsese, created the project. According to Scorsese, its goals are similar to the Film Foundation's World Cinema Project.

"The idea of the world cinema foundation was to restore and make available as best as possible films made in areas that really don't have the infrastructure, the archival infrastructure to take care of these films and take care of that cultural heritage."

The project will locate, restore, and preserve these films. Many important films from the continent are difficult to find, especially for the average movie viewer.

The Film Foundation is partnering with the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI) and UNESCO in this project.

FEPACI's advisory board is identifying 50 films for restoration. The board is made up of archivists, scholars, and filmmakers who are active in Africa. Scorsese says the films are a hidden part of the continent's history.

"Those films were made by Africans, about Africans for Africans, for the world and it is time to take that as another facet of the culture. The creative thinking, the creative action of the entire continent."

Director Yemani Demissie teaches filmmaking at New York University. He says:

"Many African films that were made in the previous century don't have the opportunity to be screened by filmmakers all over the world."

Demissie adds that this project will allow a wider audience to see these films.

Irina Bokova is UNESCO director-general. She says the project will "give justice to the African history" and encourage creativity among young filmmakers.

Scorsese agrees:

"I think it is something that could be very fruitful, for young people who are beginning to make their own films or are making their own films."

In the past ten years, Scorsese's World Cinema Project has helped restore films from Egypt and Senegal as well as from India, Armenia, Brazil, and the Philippines.

I'm Phil Dierking.

Arzouma Kompaore reported this story for VOA News. Phil Dierking adapted the report for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

Are there important films from your country that you think everyone should see? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on 51VOA.COM.


Words in This Story

archive - n. a place in which public records or historical materials are kept

cinema - n. the film industry

fruitful - adj. producing a good result

infrastructure - n. the basic equipment and structures (such as roads and bridges) that are needed for a country, region, or organization to function properly

preserve - v. to keep (something) in its original state or in good condition

restore - v. to return (something) to an earlier or original condition by repairing it, cleaning it, etc.